Every second counts in an emergency. Whether there’s a building fire, a person stuck outside in the cold, or a car crash, how quickly first responders arrive determines the outcome. Improving response times can limit personal harm and property damage, and even save lives.
Technology has eliminated countless inconveniences from daily life: catching a cab, waiting in line at Starbucks, splitting the bill with friends. When a person experiences one of the most difficult moments of their life and dials 9-1-1, they still face a list of challenges, starting with relaying their location. Technology can and should remove these obstacles for faster and more effective emergency response.
In the video below, public safety experts and former 9-1-1 dispatchers join our CEO Michael Martin to explain their vision for Next Generation 9-1-1.
Emergency Response by the Numbers
The modern 9-1-1 system was designed over 50 years ago for landlines. Emergency responders knew a caller’s location from their registered address. Now over half of US households rely exclusively on cell phones, resulting in 180 million mobile calls to 9-1-1 each year. The typical cell phone call to 9-1-1 doesn’t transmit precise location data quickly, forcing the 9-1-1 dispatcher to rely on a verbal conversation, the location of the closest cell tower, and eventually GPS when available.
“We have the opportunity to deploy existing technology to provide services that are going to literally save lives every single day.” -Dennis Patrick, former Chairman of the FCC
Researchers from the Harvard Data Science Initiative have found that making precise location information available to 9-1-1 can reduce response times by seven minutes. What does seven minutes mean in the context of responding to a 9-1-1 call? This shorter response time results in a 20 percent reduction in damages from building fires, a seven percent reduction in healthcare costs, and, most importantly, a two to ten percent reduction in mortality for life-threatening medical emergencies.
Because the current 9-1-1 system is unable to receive rich data, millions of families spend between $20 and $60 a month for roadside and home safety assistance that require call centers to verbally communicate data with 9-1-1.
From a Conversation to a Data Link
Beyond location, there is a wide range of contextual information that can be useful to first responders. Currently 9-1-1 relies on verbal conversations as the source of situational information to prepare first responders when they arrive on the scene. Speaking under the duress of an emergency can be difficult or even impossible. A caller may not know their location, much less the telematics data of a car crash or the smoke density inside a burning building.
We expect this type of convenience and automated insights from our connected devices for everyday routines like commuting and fitness. RapidSOS brings the same valuable data to 9-1-1 responders in emergencies. “RapidSOS is taking this antiquated analog based 911 system and moving it into the digital era,” says Tom Wheeler, former Chairman of the FCC. “To be able to have the same kind of functionality that we take for granted on our smart phone in our public safety system – that’s what’s exciting about RapidSOS.”
If you’d like to see the platform in action, sign up for a demo and our team will reach out to you.